1. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson led a race-high 47 laps in a respectable 13th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend. In 23 starts at Martinsville Speedway, Johnson has eight wins (2004, 2006, 2007 sweep, 2008-09, 2012, 2013), 16 Top 5s, 20 Top 10s and three poles with an Average Finish of 5.3. He ran a near perfect race in the April event, starting from the pole and leading 346 laps en route to his eighth win at the site. He’s led at least 65 laps in each of his last five starts. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Johnson leads all competitors in Driver Rating (123.8), Average Running Position (5.9), Laps Led (2,156), Laps in the Top 15 (7,849) and Average Green Flag Speed (91.569 mph) at Martinsville. His only DNF at the site came in his first-ever start, so even at a volatile track like this, Johnson remains a safe bet to plug into all lineups. His win in April wasn’t even close. Of the four remaining tracks on the circuit (Texas, Phoenix, Homestead), this one is by far Johnson’s best. Fantasy owners with just one Johnson Tiered/Grouping format start left are advised to use it this week.
2. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth led 22 laps and finished a disappointing 20th at ‘Dega a week ago. In 27 starts at Martinsville, Kenseth has three Top 5s and eight Top 10s with an Average Finish of 16.9. He finished 14th but led 96 laps back in the April race. He’s led at least one lap in each of his last four starts. Kenseth ranks 15th in DR (80.5) and 16th in ARP (16.9). Seeing as this is one of Johnson’s best tracks, this is a make or break week for Kenseth. He needs to keep pace with the No. 48 if he has a chance to win the title, making him a high quality Fantasy option across the board.
3. Kyle Busch: Busch logged a Top 5 (fifth-place) finish with nine laps led at Talladega. In 16 starts at MS, Busch has eight Top 5s and nine Top 10s with an Average Finish of 16.1. He led 56 laps in a fifth-place finish in the spring event. He led 151 (April) and 126 laps (October) in each of the 2011 Martinsville races. Busch ranks sixth in DR (96.6) and seventh in ARP (13.5). He’s keeping himself in the championship conversation, 26 points off the pace. He’s a no-brainer option in Tiered/Grouping formats.
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior led 38 laps and tied his season-high finish of second at TS. In 27 Martinsville starts, Earnhardt Jr. has 10 Top 5s and 14 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 13.5. He started 17th and finished 24th back in the April event. He’s led at least three laps in three of his last five starts. Earnhardt Jr. ranks fourth in DR (98.8) and in ARP (11.0). He leads all drivers in Green Flag Passes (960). He’s finished second in two of his last four Cup starts and has led at least two laps in each of his last six Cup starts. In the world of Dale Jr., that’s about as good as it gets. He’s safe to use in all formats.
5. Jeff Gordon: Gordon snuck in three laps led in a 14th-place finish at Talladega. In 40 starts at The Paper Clip, Gordon has seven wins (1996-97, 1999, 2003 sweep, 2005 sweep), 26 Top 5s, 33 Top 10s and seven poles with an Average Finish of 7.0. He finished third in the April race. He’s led at least 36 laps in 13 of his last 14 starts. He’s only finished outside the Top 10 twice in his last 21 starts. Gordon ranks second in DR (120.7), ARP (6.2), Laps Led (1,661), Laps in the Top 15 (7,699), Average Green Flag Speed (91.556 mph). He leads all drivers in Fastest Laps Run (968) and Quality Passes (600). Gordon is freakishly consistent at Martinsville and will be an incredible value for Fantasy owners in Tiered/Grouping formats looking for a Johnson/Kenseth alternative.
6. Kevin Harvick: Harvick fought back from 33rd on the starting grid to finish 12th at Talladega. In 24 starts at Martinsville, Harvick has one win (2011), three Top 5s and 10 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 16.6. He started 21st and finished 13th in the April race. He’s led at least six laps in five of his last seven starts. Harvick ranks seventh in DR (92.6) and ninth in ARP (14.0). Aside from the drivers listed in the Top 3, Harvick is the only other one in the championship conversation. He’s as consistent as any driver and can be trusted in Salary Cap and Tiered/Grouping formats.
7. Kurt Busch: Busch started 30th and led three laps en route to an 18th-place finish at Talladega. In 26 Martinsville starts, Busch has one win (2002), two Top 5s, four Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 21.7. He finished a miserable 37th at MS back in April. He started 26th and led 111 laps in his October 2011 victory. Busch ranks 19th in DR (77.1) and in ARP (18.8). He remains up and down but will look to finish the year strong. He should be in all provisional Tiered/Grouping format lineups.
8. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer led two laps in a 10th-place finish at ‘Dega a week ago. In 15 MS appearances, Bowyer has three Top 5s and nine Top 10s with an Average Finish of 13.2. Despite failing to lead a lap in the Spring race, he posted a second-place finish. He led 154 laps in the October 2012 race. Bowyer ranks eighth in DR (91.9) and sixth in ARP (13.0). He’s another under-the-radar Tiered/Grouping format option with quality upside considering how well he ran here in April.
9. Ryan Newman: Newman finished a solid ninth last weekend at TS. In 23 Martinsville starts, Newman has one win (2012), seven Top 5s, 11 Top 10s and three poles with an Average Finish of 14.3. He started 10th but finished a dismal 31st in the April event. He’s led at least three laps in four of his last six starts. Newman ranks ninth in DR (88.5) and 10th in ARP (14.8). He presents some value in Salary Cap formats and is an option for provisional Tiered/Grouping format lineups.
10. Kasey Kahne: Kahne managed to lead one lap in an otherwise hugely disappointing 36th-place finish at ‘Dega. In 19 starts at The Paper Clip, Kahne has two Top 5s, four Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 19.8. He led 12 laps in his October 2012 third-place performance. Kahne ranks 18th in DR (78.1) and 20th in ARP (20.1). He has Top 5 potential and will come at a serious discount in all formats this week because of his spotty history at the site.
11. Brad Keselowski: Four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 11.3 in seven Martinsville starts. 87.4 DR.
12. Carl Edwards: One Top 5 and five Top 10s with an Average Finish of 16.1 in 18 MS starts. 80.6 DR.
13. Joey Logano: One Top 5 and two Top 10s with an Average Finish of 16.1 in nine starts at the site. 77.1 DR.
14. Greg Biffle: Four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 20.8 in 21 MS starts. 69.2 DR.
15. Martin Truex Jr.: Two Top 5s and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 22.7 in 15 Martinsville starts. 69.7 DR.
16. Jamie McMurray: 84.1 DR.
17. Denny Hamlin: 111.6.
18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: 53.3.
19. Paul Menard: 60.2.
20. Aric Almirola: 61.0.
21. Marcos Ambrose
22. Juan Pablo Montoya
23. Jeff Burton
24. Mark Martin
25. Bobby Labonte
1. Elliott Sadler
2. Kyle Larson
3. David Ragan
4. Reed Sorenson
5. Cole Whitt
2013 NASCAR.com Fantasy Live Lineup for Martinsville (Salary Cap)
Jimmie Johnson $28.25
Matt Kenseth $27.75
Kurt Busch $19.75
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. $13.25
David Ragan $10.50